adjective, ters·er, ters·est.

neatly or effectively concise; brief and pithy, as language.
abruptly concise; curt; brusque.

Origin of terse

1595–1605; < Latin tersus, past participle of tergēre to rub off, wipe off, clean, polish
Related formsterse·ly, adverbterse·ness, nounun·terse, adjectiveun·terse·ly, adverbun·terse·ness, noun

Synonyms for terse

Synonym study

1, 2. See concise.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tersely

Contemporary Examples of tersely

Historical Examples of tersely

  • "Now stop this nerve strain and this foolishness," he said tersely.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • "That I have the jewels," he told her tersely, looking straight ahead.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • As Susan so tersely expressed it, they would "canvass the nation for freedom."

  • "Not lack of brains, but lack of money," she tersely replied.

  • The conditions of a well bound book may be tersely enumerated.

    The Library

    Andrew Lang

British Dictionary definitions for tersely



neatly brief and concise
curt; abrupt
Derived Formstersely, adverbterseness, noun

Word Origin for terse

C17: from Latin tersus precise, from tergēre to polish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for tersely



1590s (implied in tersely), "clean-cut, burnished, neat," from French ters "clean," from Latin tersus "wiped off, clean, neat," from past participle of tergere "to rub, polish, wipe." Sense of "concise or pithy in style or language" is from 1777, which led to a general sense of "neatly concise." The pejorative meaning "brusque" is a fairly recent development. Related: Terseness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper